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tv   Wolf  CNN  August 8, 2014 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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war for u.s. troops. pulling out all american troops from the country. the administration now responding to a vicious onslaught by islamic militants that have sparked a humanitarian crisis. the pentagon spokesman says two u.s. fighter jets bombed artillery used by the group isis which calls itself the islamic state. the batteries were based outside erbil in northern iraq. the faa here in washington restricted u.s. airlines from flying over iraqi airspace. president obama has authorized what he's calling targeted air strikes in iraq, but the president is trying to reassure americans that the u.s. will not be dragged into another ground war in iraq. he says no u.s. combat troops will return to iraq. he says no boots on the ground. u.s. military cargo planes carried out humanitarian air drops to thousands of iraqis stranded in the mountains. families with the yazidi minority, that's a religious ethnic minority, have been trapped without food or water
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after escaping possible slaughter by isis. we have our correspondents at the pentagon, the state department, on the ground in iraq, to bring you all the latest developments on the breaking news story. let's get details now on the air strikes carried out by u.s. warplanes. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is following this part of the story for us. barbara, tell us about these air strikes, the type of aircraft used, the bombs that were dep y deployed. >> wolf, there were two u.s. navy f/a-18 hornet fighter jets that came off the deck of the aircraft carrier george h.w. bush sailing in the persian gulf. they went to northern iraq, the city of erbil, and struck their target, dropping 500-pound bombs on an isis artillery position just outside the city. that position that artillery was firing at kurdish fighters trying to protect erbil in fact where, of course, we have u.s. military and u.s. diplomatic
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personnel lolocated. the people president obama has said he will protect with u.s. air strikes if necessary. we are told they hit their target, they hit the artillery piece, they hit the truck that was towing it, and they are very satisfied with this mission. so now, what comes next? every reason to believe there will be additional air strikes against isis po is s i positio additional air drops to drop supplies to those tens of thousands of iraqis trapped in those northern mountains. >> do they know the humanitarian supplies, the food, the water, the medical equipment, actually reached those yazidis, maybe 40,000 of whom are trapped on that mountain top? >> at this point, they, in fact, do believe that the majority of the bundles of food, water, some basic additional supplies, did reach those people, that they are able to get to them. but this is -- you know, this is a very difficult situation. 40,000 people. one air drop.
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that's just basically the beginning in order to help these people and keep them alive. so you're going to -- there's every reason to understand that there will be additional air drops and when those air drops go into that area, they will be protected, as they were last night by fighter jets flying alongside them. because those transport aircraft th that, you know, push those bundles of supplies out the back, those are large, slow-flying aircraft. they can be vulnerable to enemy action. they will have fighter jet escorts at all times. >> the isis forces have surface to air missiles, shoulder fired, even more sophisticated surface to air missiles. i want to go to the white house press secretary discussing all of this right now. >> thank you, well, come on.
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setting the record straight. there we go. all right. i don't have any announcements at the top so we'll go straight to questions. darlene. >> follow-up on iraq and the air strike outside of erbil earlier today. do you expect there will be additional air strikes today, over the weekend? can you give us a sense of how long the president thinks or expected this limited campaign mode will last for? >> i'm glad you described it that way, because the president's -- the authorization the president has given for military action is very limited in scope and was clearly described in the remarks he delivered last night. i don't have any operational updates to share with you in terps of additional military action. as you pointed out, the department of defense did confirm this morning that a military strike was carried out in iraq, and the -- so any
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additional updates will come directly from them. the department of defense has significant capability and will be prepared to use that capability in pursuit of the goals the president articulated last night. >> what is your best definition of "limited"? >> well, there are two speck y specific ways in which the president described. the first is first and foremost is the protection of american personnel. there are american military and diplomatic officials in erbil. the artillery position that was maintained by isil that was struck by the american military early this morning east coast time was from targets that were defending erbil. that is why that struck, that military strike was authorized and why it occurred. the protection of american personnel in iraq is a top priority.
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and one that merits the use of military force. the second is related to this urgent humanitarian situation that exists at sinjar mountain. there's a religious and ethnic minority population, thousands of people, men, women and children, stranded at the top of this mountain. isil forces are at the base of the mountain vowing to kill those who descend. that is an urgent humanitarian situation. the united states military last night upon the authorizing of the president carried out successfully an air drop of supplies, food and water and some basic medical supplies to those individuals stranded on the mountain to try to provide some humanitarian relief. the president has authorized military strikes that could be used to address that situation at the mountain. there are kurdish security forces that are seeking to dislodge that siege there at sinjar mountain.
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if the assets can be helpful in supporting kurdish forces, than air strikes could be carried out in pursuit of that goal. the third is slightly broader. but is related to our belief and commitment to supporting integrated iraqi security forces and kurdish security forces as they unite the country to repel the threat that is posed by the isil advance. what will be required for that is of course an integrated inclusive political leadership in iraq. and it is why this -- this country stands ready to support the formation of an inclusive government in iraq. there have been significant -- there has been significant progress on that front in the last few weeks. there has been the appointment of a president, a speaker and
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two deputy speakers that reflect the diversity of iraq's population. the head of iraq is the prime minister. the prime minister has not yet been selected. once that government has formed, we would anticipate, be continuing to urge that government to pursue that agenda. the united states stands ready to support the formation of that government, and that government's efforts to repel the advance of isil and that include, where necessary, the deployment of military force. it will not include the additional american combat troops being deployed to iraq. >> on the humanitarian situation, is there a plan to get those people off of the mountain and would there be a role for the u.s. in any such operation? >> what is being -- the strategy right now is to try to meet the
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basic and immediate humanitarian needs of those who are trapped in these pretty terrible conditions. that is what prompted the air drop of supplies that occurred overnight. the second prong in that strategy, as the president described it in his remarks last night, is the possibility of targeted military strikes that could dislodge the isil forces that are carrying out the siege of that mountain. that would be in support of kurdish security forces that are also trying to disrupt that siege. so we will be acting in support of kurdish forces who are trying to free those trapped at the top of the mountain. again, this is -- what is not contemplated here is the introduction of american troops in a combat role to alleviate the situation. >> can you give us a sense of what the president's involvement on this has been today?
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we know about the phone call with jordan's king abdullah. is he on the fortunate with other leaders trying to get allies to join this campaign? >> i'm not in a position to read out any presidential phone calls right now. if the president places additional phone calls we can read out, we'll try to do that in a timely fashion today. the president has met with members of his security team to get an overnight update of the situation in iraq. he was briefed on the military strike that was carried out this morning east coast time. the president will stay in close touch with his national security team over the course of the day so that he can be updated as necessary. >> as we've seen the isis or isil make gains in recent weeks, the united states has sent military advisers and the president last night took the action that he took. you and he have said that there's no military solution to this, and that the united states should not get dragged into a
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war. what is to stop that from happening? what is to stop the islamist state forces from advancing further into iraq? >> well, let me try to -- you've asked a couple different questions so let me try to take those individually. the first one, and this is, i think, in some ways, the most important for the american people to understand, and the president said this very clearly in his remarks last night. i have them here. if you'll indulge me. as commander in chief, the president said, i will not allow the united states to be dragged into fighting another war in iraq. so even as we support iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, american combat troops will not be returning to fight in iraq. so that is a pretty clear expression from the commander in chief about what our intentions are and about what the limit of any such action would be. that's a clear annunciation of the kind of principle at stake
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here, which is this belief that there are many challenges facing the people of iraq right now, and it's the view of the president that the -- those challenges cannot be solved by the american military. they can only be solved through an inclusive government of the people of iraq. and they've made progress in trying to form that government. and we are hopeful that once that government is formed, that they will pursue the kind of inclusive governing agenda required to unite that country in the face of the threat that exists in that country right now. if there is a role for the american military to play in supporting the iraqi people and that inclusive government and integrated security force that is capable of defending the country, then we'll use that american military prowess in pursuit of that goal as well. it is, after all, in the clear national security interest in
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the united states for there to be a stable iraqi government that can preside over a stable iraq and a security force that has the capability to address the security in that country. these are all difficult challenges, and i don't mean to minimize them, but, you know, we have a very clear point of view based on our recent experience about the limits of american involvement in that kind of endeavor. what that means is this is a situation that is a very difficult challenge. it's not a challenge that can be solved by the american military. there's support that can be provided by the american military, but this is a situation that can only be solved by the iraqi government
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and a government that reflects the views of iraq's population. >> the government hopes the actions he authorized yesterday effectively will buy time so the iraqis will organize their government and their defense forces to repeal isis? >> well, i don't think i would describe it that way. again, what i would do, the primary goal of the mission the president authorized last night was the protection of american personnel in iraq. the president authorized the military action to address an urgent, even dire humanitarian situation on sinjar mountain and a willingness on the part of the american people to continue to stand with the people of iraq as they pursue a future that is reflective of the diverse population of the nation of iraq. and that future is under grave threat by isil extremists who are making advances across that country. it is in the clear interest of
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american national security to support the iraqi people as they confront that threat. this is a threat we cannot confront for them. it is a threat that can only be met and defeated by a unified iraq in support of an integrated capable iraq security force. if that requires the support of the american military, that is support we're ready to offer, but will not offer it in the farm of a prolonged military conflict that involve, the united states of america and it will not involve american troops returning to iraq in a combat role. >> border patrol data show a decline in the number of children being apprehended who are crossing the border illegally and adults as well. how does that data factor into the president's thinking, his urgency and acting unilaterally to address the situation? >> let me say a couple things about the data and then we'll talk about the president's
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views. the first thing about the data that's important to understand is we have seen a downward trend over the last four to six weeks of the rate at which unaccompanied children are being apprehended at the border. however, it's important to understand that compared to a year ago, there still is apprehensions taking place at an elevated rate. while we come down from peak we saw earlier this summer, the rate is still high when you -- >> all right, so the white house press secretary josh earnest moved on to another subject. i want to go to ivan watson right now, he's our correspondent in erbil. he's got an eyewitness account of what the white house and the state department are now calling potential genocide unfolding in iraq against iraqi christians, the yazidis, other minority groups. they're basically, ivan, correct me if i'm wrong, being told to convert to their brand of islam or die.
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wa what's the latest? what are you seeing there? >> well, i think the kurds have been breathing a collect ivg sigh of relief with the announcement of u.s. air strikes against isis targets not very far from erbil. just as recently as last night, senior kurdish officials were telling me they were worried about what more assaults from isis forces that are only about 30 miles, 50 kilometers, away from erbil. they were quite worried about that. and they saw a night and a day that has proven to be much quieter than expected. perhaps because of the deterrent of value of president obama's warning. and then the subsequent air strikes that hit, as the u.s. says, suspected isis targets not far from erbil. so that has helped a city that was quite shaken by the advances the isis militants have made within the last couple of days. and also really overwhelmed by
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the flood of humanity that has poured into erbil, that has poured into the kurdish city of dohaq as well. we're hearing numbers of 800,000 people who have flooded across these borders. they tend to come from the religious and ethnic minorities, christians, yazidis, turkmen, shiites. and they talk about the there'd of genocide. and when you go to the churches, the youth centers, the unfinished construction sites where thousands of families have been sleeping for the past two nights, that is the feeling you get, that they had no choice of staying behind in their homes, because in the earlier waves of the isis offensive in northern iraq, those alternatives were posed, for instance, to christians. either convert to islam, pay a tax to the isis militants, or face the sword. wolf. >> the sword.
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that would mean death obviously. very quickly on that mountain top where we're told 30,000 or 40,000 of these yazidis are stranded up on the top of this mountain, isis terrorists at the bottom of the mountain saying, you come down, we're going to kill you. the u.s. dropping food and supplies to help save the yazidis up there. is there anything -- are these isis troops at the bottom leaving? anything going on to ease the plight of these people? >> well, we have heard through the kurdish media that some of those people that are trapped on the mountain have escaped. and that that escape was helped and organized in part by fighters from a kurdish faction known often as the pkk, the kurdistan workers party. there's a strange coincidence here. the pkk is officially labeled by the u.s. government as a terrorist organization because it's fought a war against turkey, a nato ally, of the u.s.
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for some 30 years. but some pkk militants appear to have come to the rescue of their stranded kurdish brethren up on the mountain, come to the aid of other kurdish peshmerga fighters, who we're told by kurdish officials here have run very low on ammunition. there are still believed to be tens of thousands of civilians still caught on the mountain, and those aid drops that the u.s. helped facilitate obviously, possibly life saving, a very temporary measure to help those people who have been living out in the open in temperatures that soar above 128 degrees fahrenheit here in august in mesopotamia. >> be very careful in erbil. ivan watson, one of our courageous correspondents on the screen for us, a very, very dangerous part of the world. the secretary of state john kerry calls the situation in iraq a wake-up call but the threat from isis has been building for a long time.
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why take military action now? our gloebal affairs correspondet joining us from the state department. why now? >> well, as the president said, wolf, obviously, it was to protect american personnel and to provide some relief to these poor aziyazidis up on the mount top. senior u.s. officials telling me there was a grave concern isis would take the city of erbil. you also have turkey on the border with the north. that could have dramatic consequences not just for the region but for the united states as well. that's the reason that the president has ordered air strikes against isis targets. because of that very real concern that isis could take erbil. >> alliss, we'll get back to you. militants in the terror group known as isis, they're fighting in northern iraq right now, and guess what, they're using u.s.-made weapons they stole
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from abandoned their bases. just one example of how politically entangled this region has become. let's bring in our national correspondent jim sciutto. this gets more complicated. you just heard josh earnest say the u.s. is not going to get dragged into a combat operation but the u.s. is already believed in combat, dropping precision-guided, 500-pound laser bombs on artillery targets. >> it is combat. he says no combat troops on the ground. clearly they're engaged in combat if you're blowing up isis positions on the ground. dual message from the administration. they define this military operation as limited to protecting u.s. personnel not just in erbil but in baghdad and protecting yazidis stranded on the mountain. he goes on to say there could be a broader mission to help iraqis stand up to isis going forward. consistent with their past messages. they want iraqis to do this. they say a political settlement
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in the government, inclusive government is a key part of that strategy. interesting language, he used to say there is this somewhat broader mission going forward. the president talked about possible help offering to iraqis to stand up to the broader threat. how will that be defined? let's say you save the yazidis, you save the christians, you keep american personnel safe innin erbil and baghdad, who pushes back against isis? to this point, the iraqi military has not been up to that. how much does the u.s. help the iraqi military to do that? that's something that's undefined at this point. >> rough ballpark how much americans are in erbil, whether military personnel? >> hundreds. more than 100 u.s. military advisers. part of this surge of advisers the president ordered some weeks ago in response to the isis threat. plus hundreds of consular workers there. in the irony, yet another irony of ironies, several of those
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consular workers had been stationed to baghdad, moved to erbil when isis was threatening baghdad because the kurdish-controlled areas were presumed safer. now isis is threatening erbil. it shows really no place is safe today. >> they have the evacuation plan in place. >> they do. some trooped moved into the region were, in part, to guarantee an evacuation route if necessary. >> all right, jim sciutto will be with us throughout the day. we'll take a quick break. when we come back, more on what's going on in iraq. president obama laid out his reasons to attack those targets in iraq. did he hit the mark? gloria borger will weigh in. she's got -- doing some reporting on ways goihat's goin. what do those air strikes aim to accomplish? i'll speak with congressman peter king of new york. he's standing by live.
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years, the u.s. trained the military, several hundred thousand iraqi troops, gave them the best u.s. military hardware, said, you know what, the u.s. is leaving, it's up to you to protect your country. why are they m.i.a. in protecting the christians in iraq, the yazidis, the kurds? what's wrong with the iraqi military? why aren't they doing the job that the u.s. hoped they would do? >> wolf, i would say several steps leading to that. one, when president obama went through all our troops from iraq, in effect, we lost control over the situation. that put maliki in charge. he put many corrupt colonels and generals. he removed the sunni leaders. put in shiite military leaders. there was real morale problems. there was a lack of training. the army, which had been, i think, a much better army then than it is now, began to deteriorate under maliki's leadership. it was two pronged, president obama pulling out argue troops and maliki corrupting the iraqi army by putting in corrupt
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leaders. >> they abandon positions in mosul and other parts of northern iraq, warehouses, their bases. the isis forces came in, they stole all that u.s. hardware. they have abrams battle tanks right now. they went into the banks. they stole hundreds of millions of dollars. they're one of the richest, if not the richest, terror organization in the world now. how much of a threat does isis represent to the united states? >> isis is more of a threat to the united states now than al qaeda was prior to september 11th. al qaeda spent only several hundred thousand dollars to attack the world trade center and the pentagon. isis now is over $1 billion. that's why -- plus all this hardware you're talking about, military hardware. the reason, wolf, i am very critical, what the president has done, i support the air strikes. that is is important. having said that, why he says the u.s. is not going to provide more military help until there's a more diverse government in iraq. if isis is a threat to the u.s.,
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and it is, then we shouldn't let our security depend on the whims of the iraqi parliament. also, when the president says that we're not going to use -- we're not going to go beyond these air strikes, i can't understand why a commander in chief would ever tell the enemy what we're going to do or not do. he can decide himself whether or not he wants to use additional force. don't let the enemy know what you're going to do. you're showing to me a lack of will, a lack of resolve. you're also telling the enemy how far they can go and not risk retaliation. >> are you ready for what they call boots on the ground, send in thousands of u.s. forces back into iraq to deal with isis? >> what i'm saying is the president should not take any option away and if he does take it away in his own mind, he should not announce it to the enemy. why he keeps saying over and over he's not going to be dragging into a war it first, no commander in chief is ever dragged into a war in this type. he will make the decision what
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to do. he has the options as to what he wants to do. he should not be telling the enemy what that's going to be. the president implies, a national security usual. if it's a national security issue, we shouldn't sit back and say it's up to the iraqi government, up to them to form a diverse government. yes, we want a unified government. one that reflects the people. absent that, we can't be waiting until that's all resolved if we believe our national security is at stake. what's happening in curt stan directly affects our national security. both as far as natural resources, as far as being close to turkey, and the impact it would have. right now isis, i believe, controls more land mass than the entire country of great britain. that's what we're talking about. not like prior to 9/11 where we're talking about the taliban and al qaeda operating in the mountains of afghanistan. we're talking about a caliphate that's been set up, a state set up, and as if two 500-pound
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bombs is going to have a real impact, such a false message. he says not being in combat, if you're dropping bombs, you're in combat. we have over 800 troops in iraq, which is more troops in iraq than president eisenhower said in vietnam. he shouldn't be sending mixed signals. the commander in chief has to be much more firmer than he's being. >> here's the bottom-line question. no military planner i've spoken to believe air power is going to destroy isis, remove them from that huge territory. the only way that's done is through ground forces. the peshmerga, the kurdish guerrillas, they're great fighters but they're lightly armed, they can't do it. the iraqi military, they're m.i.a., missing in action. i haven't seen any international nato partners or anybody else willing to send in troops. if you're going to destroy isis in iraq, you have to send in at least 50,000, maybe 100,000, u.s. ground forces to do the job. are your constituents on long
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island, congressman, ready for another major war, ground war, like that in iraq? >> what i'm saying is the president has allowed so much time to go by. i believe with effective air strikes, with arming the kurds, and also letting -- the president said he is willing to take military action once the iraqi -- once the iraqi government is in place. i'm saying whatever military action he has planned for that time, don't wait until the government is in place. he has various options. i'm not the commander in chief, he is, but he should not be taking anything off the table. by doing what he's done, over and over again, saying he's not going to do this, we're not going to get dragged into a war, he's sending a false signal, he's encouraging the enemy. he's dispiriting our allies and he's just putting off the inevitable. >> it's an awful situation what's going on in iraq right now, no simple solutions. thank you, congressman peter king. coming up, the cease-fire in gaza, it's over at least for now. hamas started firing some
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rockets, pushing israel away from the negotiating table. we're going to go live to the region. ♪ ♪ fill their bowl with the meaty tastes they're looking for, with friskies grillers. tender meaty pieces and crunchy bites. in delicious chicken, beef, turkey, and garden veggie flavors. friskies grillers.
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they seem to destroy everything in their path, even mosques. they force everyone they conquer to convert to islam or die and they brazenly document their terror. isis militants have been spreading their radical tentacles across iraq for months and they're now launching a new
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land grab in the north. let's bring in brian todd. remind us about this group, because they are brutal. >> brutal, and a senior official tells me isis is now the strongest it has been in years. why is it so dangerous on the batt battlefield now? accord to intelligence, it's the training, tactics and weapons that sets them apart now from traditional terrorist militant forces who have engaged in battle with iraqi and western forces. they shoot better than terrorist forces have in the past. they maneuver in disciplined formations on the battlefield, with militant and terrorist forces did not do in the past. the weapons they have seized, very impressive. an official told ivan watson today they're firing at them with m-1 abrams tanks. those are american tanks stolen from the iraqi forces. a senior u.s. intelligence official told us they seized anti-aircraft guns. the training is also something we need to talk about. experts are telling us that fighters from the chechen and
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bosnian conflicts have been mentors to these isis forces. those are experiences fighters from those conflicts, we're told they are training them, and that makes them better on the battlefield, as did their experience in fighting in syria. you've got an experienced, well-equipped force, well commanded now on the battlefield against the iraqi, kurdish and maybe now u.s. armied forces. >> i've heard estimates they may have 10,000 or so armed fighters, if you will, some fighters a little higher, some a little lower. can 10,000 fighters do what they've done, basically take over huge chunks of iraq? because the iraqi military has a military, what, 300,000 standing army. >> that's the big question, can they hold those areas with just 10,000 forces. most experts say they probably cannot. you may see a tide turning. what they've been able to do, though, wolf, when they've moved into those areas, they release these horrible videos showing them executing people and all of that. they're willing the prop began
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za battle before they get into these towns and when the iraqi forces and other resistance forces have seen these videos, a lot of the time they're kind of psyched out before the battle starts and they take off. that's what experts are saying is isis has been doing effectively. they win the propaganda war before the battle starts. >> absolutely brutal. brian todd. thank you very much. brian will have more in "the situation room" later today. let's turn to the middle east situation between israel and hamas in gaza. the israeli military striking targets right now in gaza. this, after hamas began larging rockets in israel just before the cease-fire, the 72-hour cease-fire, was supposed to end. cnn's martin savidge is in jerusalem. what's the latest over there? any prospect of resuming the peace talks in cairo, resuming
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the peacease-fire? >> there's been a rumor circulating here perhaps around 8:00 p.m. tonight there would be some sort of renewal of a cease-fire. to put that apparently to rest, right at about 8:00, there was a barrage of rockets that were outgoing from gaza, obviously on the way into the direction of israel. and that's the way it's been, ever since 8:00 a.m., when the original 72 hours expired. there was a barrage of rockets then. there have been rockets all day long going from gaza. at the same time, israel has been responding. they started about three hours after the first rockets and they've been using air strikes. they've been hammering away. these are really loud big explosions that lift large gray crowds up into the air. on top of that, there's artillery and there's also tank fire that is being reported on the eastern and northern boards of gaza. so it's been like that all day
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long. five people have been reported killed. that is on top of what we already had a taggering death toll. now approaching nearly 1900 people killed in gaza. wolf. >> a lot of those people are civilians. many of them militants. a lot of them are civilians, women and children. have you seen any change in the support for hamas since hamas decided to break the cease-fire earlier today? >> well, it's not like there's scientific polling done but yesterday at a rally there was a great deal of support. it seems people have reached a frustrating point where they say, look, we can't go back. that's not to say they're blatantly supporting hamas, but it is to say this seems they're okay for now with the way it's been going. i'm not trying to say that they are comfortable with the death
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toll or the amount of destruction, not at all. but you don't see a cracking point. you don't hear outspoken voices saying what hamas is doing is completely wrong. >> i want to go to jake in jerusalem. what are you hearing from your sources, israeli and palestinians, others. i know you're well connected on this. is there a chance a new cease-fire can go into effect and b, the parties can reserve the dialogue, if you will, in cairo, designed to ease some of the restrictions on the palestinian's lives in gaza and stop the rockets and missiles coming into israel? >> it's certainly possible, wolf. and what i'm about to tell you is an exercise in very low expectations. sources what are pushing for the cease-fire say there are two reasons to be encouraged. one is the palestinians are still in cairo. they have not left.
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the negotiators are still there, including representatives from hamas. so the idea that a cease-fire is off the table might make good rhetoric, but behind the scenes, the palestinians are working together. they're presenting all the different factions. but behind the scenes, they are working with the egyptians on what could be a proposal to get a cease-fire implemented once again. the other sign, i'm told, that gives some people pushing for the cease-fire reason for encouragement is that even though there has been death and destruction in the last day on top of all the other death and destruction from the previous month, it has been relative to other periods of this conflict, relatively low intensity. five individuals in gaza have been killed, including a 10-year-old child. two individuals in israel have been wounded. but compared to some of the other violent outbreaks we've seen in the last month, there is a way of analyzing how much
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either side is willing to attack the other and it is not at a spiraling out of control point right now. i know that sounds very odd to a lot of listeners, a lot of viewers, that one could be looking at what's going on and think, oh, that's reason for encouragement, but it is for those hoping for a renewal of the cease-fire, wolf. >> i assume the israelis would be ready to resend their delegation to cairo if there was a real opportunity to pursue another cease-fire and get serious negotiations under way. jake will have a lot more coming up at 4:00 p.m. eastern on "the lead." he'll be reporting today from jerusalem as he has for the last several days. martin savidge in gaza, thank you. up next, the decision to strike isis militants in iraq. was it a choice the president wanted to make? our own gloria borger, she's been doing some digging, she's been looking at what's going on. type 2 diabetes affects millions of us.
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that's why i always choose the fastest intern.r slow. the fastest printer. the fastest lunch. turkey club. the fastest pencil sharpener. the fastest elevator. the fastest speed dial. the fastest office plant. so why wouldn't i choose the fastest wifi? i would. switch to comcast business internet and get the fastest wifi included. comcast business. built for business. let's go back to our top story. the united states now launching air strikes against targets inside iraq. they're targeting isis, that's the militant group that calls itself the islamic state. the president warning of the strikes when he spoke on national tv last night. our chief political analyst gloria borger is with me right now. the president also saying he's
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not going to get the united states dragged into another war in iraq. this is a pivotal point. >> it is. and the president last night, as i was watching him, he sort of darted from side to side reading the prompter almost as if he couldn't look directly at the american people and say i'm going to send air strikes into iraq because he didn't want to do it. i mean, you could sense that frustration on his part because we know that this president doesn't want to sort of ask for more trouble. he knows that the american public is not for involvement in iraq. but i would argue that this is a humanitarian case and that he made that case the american people. but they may want to hear from him a little bit more about when the use of force is necessary and when the use of force is not. >> the -- you know, let's say the air strikes continue now for several days -- >> right. >> isis artillery, isis targets, but isis is still there. >> right. >> and then you face a dilemma.
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they can't do it as close as they are. and at what point does the united states need to go in there, get the job done? >> well, and look, those questions have not been answered. while the administration officials i've spoken with have made the case that this is a very narrowly defined mission, they also acknowledge that the unexpected can always occur, wolf, and that situations can escalate in ways that you did not anticipate. and so the question you're asking is the question we're all asking is what happens next if this does escalate? would the u.s. turn away? how would we make that decision? at what point would we say, yes, we have to commit more air cover? or even people on the ground, which is, of course, something the president has said time and time again he will not do. these are these unanswered questions that come with every kind of a commitment.
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>> gloria, standby, i want to bring michael into this conversation. all right, michael. president says the u.s. is not going to get dragged into another war of combat, if you will, boots on the ground in iraq. but there's no guarantee that the u.s. can stay out, right? >> i think you're right. although the president has a lot of wiggle room in my opinion. i'm a little bit of a contrarian on this in terms of his room for maneuver with the american people. if he presents just how serious this isis threat is, and if he also keeps major american brigades and divisions out, and i'm sure he will, we all agree on that, he may have some space to do things much more than he's doing. maybe even with some limited numbers of special forces. maybe even with some drones. maybe even with more air power as gloria says. and possibly even with limited numbers of security force assistance teams that would go out in the field with the iraqi army. now, i know the white house doesn't like that kind of talk, doesn't want that, but if it comes to the issue of, we have no other way of getting rid of
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isis, and this is a group more dangerous than al qaeda was in afghanistan prior to 9/11. down the road, if the iraqis form a national government that allows us to work with them more systematically, we may have to contemplate these kinds of options. i think that's less than the classic boots on the ground kind of mission the president is so averse to. >> you know, michael, i think you're right, and i think that could occur. but in that case, wouldn't the president then just have to go to the american people again and explain just why he is doing what he is doing? after we heard him for so long. we know how reluctant he is to get into trouble, if you will, or put boots on the ground or do more than he's doing. i mean, it would -- it would symbolize kind of a u-turn for him in a funny way, wouldn't it? >> to an extent. but i also feel there are a couple of things that are mitigating here. for one thing, i think he can say, listen, iraq has been a very divisive issue in our country. we all have our positions on what we should've done back in
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'03 and so forth. we have to go into the future based on future requirements and conditions. and respond to the situation before us. there are going to be far fewer people in iraq, even if he increases the way i'm proposing, far fewer than when he came into the white house. and so we're not talking about tens of thousands of americans in iraq or afghanistan under any imaginable scenario. i still think he has some room for maneuver with the american people. if he explains the mission and explains the threat. >> let me ask both of you an awkward moment. the u.s. is effectively engaged in combat operations, air strikes in iraq, gloria. the president's supposed to go on vacation to martha's vineyard tomorrow. is that awkward? >> yeah. i think it is awkward. you know, this is a white house that has always said, wolf, and you know this, that the president is not going to be overtaken by events. that he's going to continue to do his job. and, and govern the affairs he
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needs to govern. however, this is vacation. he is coming back in the middle of this vacation. but you could argue that the optics of it do not look great. i personally believe presidents deserve vacations. although, this is an inopportune moment for him to leave. and perhaps he ought to put it off a couple of days. >> other presidents have faced a similar awkward moment, michael. you remember george w. bush. he was ready to tee off on the golf course. he made a major statement about what was going on in iraq. and then he went off and played a round of golf. that was an awkward moment, too. >> very good point, wolf. and i think i share gloria's perspective that this is evolving fast enough that it's a little bit delicate to try to get out of town at this precise moment. something like gaza and israel, which you've been covering so well. with that kind of crisis, even though it's still tragic, still dangerous, we're well enough into it that a lot of our basic options have been developed and we don't necessarily need to hold the president back from the vacation for that. but this is breaking quickly enough. that whole new possibilities are
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emerging, new requirements are emerging. i think he has to be cognizant of that. >> here are some things to worry about, some scholars have said the united states is doing, bombing isis positions inside iraq. that's going to have the unintended consequences of actually strengthening isis among a lot of folks over there because the crusaders have now come back to the region and want to kill these sunni muslims. >> you know, i haven't seen iraqis really behave that way. that's an argument you hear at a very theoretical level. on television and sometimes from academics or policy, you know, analysts or politicians. iraqis on the ground tend to make calculations about their own personal security. and that's part of why been so successful. maliki, the prime minister as you know drove away so many sunnis, made them feel insecure. made them feel that the
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government of baghdad had become a shia version of saddam hussein. so i'm not worried about the theoretical argument about the crusaders. i'm worried about if kurdistan is under direct and dire threat. >> i think they will be. the president's got a lot going on right now, gloria, israel and gaza. he's got ukraine, libya, syria. the world, a lot of people have said this, is really on fire right now. >> the world is on fire. and back to your point about going on vacation. now, with the white house always says when you ask these questions. you know, the white house is movable. wherever the president goes, we take the national security apparatus with him and we move it. i don't think at this particular case given what michael says and what we all know about this situation is moving so quickly that he can really do that. >> it's a real mess, gloria borger, thanks so much. thanks to you.
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that's it for me. we'll have much more coming up. a special two-hour edition of the "situation room" 5:00 p.m. eastern. we've got major news on both of the breaking news stories. stay with us for that. for our international viewers, "news center" begins in a moment here in the united states, "newsroom" starts right now. all right. here we go. top of the hour. on this friday, live in new york. we have special coverage of two huge breaking stories on cnn. the u.s. launches its first air strike in iraq. what was targeted and could more air strikes be on the way? we have coverage throughout the region coming up. >> and i'm jake tapper live in jerusalem, the 72-hour cease-fire between israel and hamas came to a violent end. rockets are flying once again. how is that impacting any sort of cease-fire talks in cairo, t?